Those cute puppies at the pet store are almost always supplied by puppy mills or brokers. Pet stores will claim that their puppies come from breeders not puppy mills, but, the truth is, responsible breeders do not sell their puppies to pet stores. The manager of a pet store may insist they only deal with breeders they know, however, these breeders are often out of state and their facilities have never been even been seen.
The pet store may declare the facilities their puppies come from are inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This should be a red flag to the buyer. Most USDA licensed breeders are actually puppy mills, housing hundreds of dogs in small wire cages with minimal food and water. Many of these breeders have long lists of violations yet still regularly sell to pet stores. An AKC (American Kennel Club) registration only means the puppy is purebred. It does not guarantee the puppy is healthy or free of genetic defects.
Puppies from pet stores often have health problems from the poor conditions they are raised in or the stress from the long cramped interstate transport to the pet store. Common problems include blood disorders, hip dysplasia, neurological problems, eye and ear infections, malnutrition and dehydration. Even if a health certificate from a licensed veterinarian is offered it is only a basic health check and does not test for hereditary conditions, parasites or diseases such as epilepsy, heart disease, kidney disease, Giardia, Kennel cough and mange. The Humane Society of the United States (HSU) provides a Puppy Buyer Complaint Form which tracks sellers and helps in the fight against puppy mills.
Puppies that survive the unsanitary conditions and grueling delivery to pet stores have rarely known the love of human contact necessary for proper socialization. Lack of socialization with humans and littermates means the puppies will not develop skills needed to become good companions.
Raised in small cages without the chance to run and play, puppies may develop habits like running in circles or barking excessively. They have not developed the natural instinct to eliminate away from their food and bed which can lead to house breaking problems.
Each time a puppy is bought from a pet store they are supporting a puppy mill. Make adoption your first option. Finding a responsible breeder, shelter or rescue group for your lifetime companion will help defeat puppy mills. Local shelters and breed rescue groups can be found at Petfinder.com or Pets 911.